Tag: Tunisia

Tunisia needs to keep trying

Since the overthrow of the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, Tunisia has been on a long journey of reform and change. However, as panelists at the Atlantic Council’s “Tunisia’s Road to Reform” last Thursday pointed out, the destination does not always appear to be democratization and economic improvement, two of the revolution’s goals. The event included former Tunisian communications minister Oussama Romdhani of the Arab Weekly, Sarah Yerkes of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Fadil Aliriza, an independent journalist based in Tunis. The discussion was moderated by Karim Mezran introduced by Fred Hof of the Atlantic Council.

Tunisia’s path to democratization began with a national dialogue and the election of a new president, and according to Romdhani will continue with the upcoming municipal elections of 2018 and the general elections of 2019. There are several obstacles to democratization, including lack of participation in elections and failure of political parties to gain respect and credibility. Tunisia’s political parties, the most significant of which are Ennahda and Nidaa Tounes, are largely disconnected from the reality faced by their constituents and are inefficient due to the continuous feuding that occurs between them. Aliriza criticized the current parties saying that they are based on personality rather than politics and that their categorization (liberal, secular, Islamist, etc) and ideologies are outdated and based on the old, pre-revolution model.

Romdhani also referred to social unrest, which he considered to be in part a result of the desire for “instant gratification” by Tunisia’s youth. This has put pressure on a government that, in his view, does not have the means to provide reform in a short period of time. Economic pressures, the instability in neighboring Libya, and lack of support from the West are all additional obstacles to democratization and reform listed.

Yerkes and Aliriza both went a step further to say that Tunisia has actually taken steps towards authoritarianism, a claim that they supported using several recent events, including a cabinet reshuffle, the postponement of municipal elections, and the adoption of a reconciliation law. It was the reconciliation law that seemed to be the most worrying to Aliriza, because it pardons civil servants accused of contributing to corruption under the old regime. This he said is a violation of the constitution and an effort to create a separate justice system for those associated with the old regime. The law is only beneficial to a minority of the population and has caused protests and unrest in the country.

Most importantly, the debate around the law is distracting the government as well as civil society organizations from focusing on reform. The government does have the means, Aliriza argued, but is misusing them. The law threatens the country’s stability, the disconnect between the regime and the people is growing, and the government’s legitimacy is under question. The government seems to be engaging in revolution-denial by repeating “old regime practices.”

Aliriza’s focus on the government’s shortcomings led Mezran to inquire what the panelists thought should be done about the flawed operations of the parliament and political parties. Aliriza responded by emphasizing the importance of employing staff for parliament in order to allow parliamentarians to connect with their constituencies, bridging the existing divide. He also proposed the creation of new parties and the greater inclusion of youth in formal politics. Yerkes agreed on the need for parliamentary staff to allow parliamentarians to travel and meet with the population.

She also thinks the time has come to move past Tunisia’s consensus model. The requirement that political parties agree with each other on policy issues may have previously provided stability, Yerkes admitted, but is currently undermining the legitimacy of each party in the eyes of its followers. The lack of debate has led to stagnation.

More defensively, Romdhani called for a change in perspective when viewing Tunisia’s government. Credibility, for example, should not be viewed as an isolated issue, but should rather in a regional context: the Tunisian people, in comparison with other countries that witnessed revolutions as part of the Arab spring, are still committed to freedom and democracy, making the Tunisian case “less worrisome” than others. Furthermore, in what can be interpreted as a response to Aliriza’s firm opposition to the reconciliation law, Romdhani said that those opposed to the law must pursue an already existing legal process and better explain their concerns instead of resorting to protests and filibusters.

While the panel revolved mostly around challenges and obstacles to reform in Tunisia, Yerkes took some time to remind the audience of promising aspects of the country’s development. These include the potential that the 2019 election brings and the role that civil society plays in holding the government accountable. Despite a large number of challenges, Tunisia remains, in the eyes of many, an example of a successful Arab revolution. As long is it continues to take steps towards fulfilling such a vision, that image will persist.

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Peace picks September 25 – 29

  1. The Trump Administration and the Middle East: What Should America Do Next? | Monday, September 25 | 12:00 – 1:30 pm | Hudson Institute | Register Here | “Donald Trump promised to do a great deal more in the Middle East than his immediate predecessors, but with much less,” Hudson Institute fellows Michael Doran and Peter Rough wrote recently in Mosaic magazine. “That is, he would achieve significantly more than Barack Obama at a much smaller sacrifice of blood and treasure than was incurred under George W. Bush. This he would accomplish by defining American interests sharply and pursuing them aggressively, not to say ruthlessly. The result would be a global restoration of American credibility and, as Trump never ceased to remind voters, renewed global respect.” Nearly nine months into his term in his office, has President Trump followed through on his promises regarding Middle East policy? Doran and Rough argue that America’s big problem in the region is still Iran. In a written response to the article, Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution contends that America is not in a zero-sum contest with the Iranians. On September 25, join us for a frank discussion on the future of U.S. Middle East policy with Doran, Rough, and O’Hanlon. Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Lee Smith will moderate the panel.
  2. Rethinking Political Islam | Monday, September 25 | 5:30 – 8:00 pm | Brookings Institution | Register Here | The rapid succession of events of the past four years have challenged conventional wisdom on political Islam. In “Rethinking Political Islam” (Oxford University Press, 2017), Shadi Hamid and William McCants have gathered together the leading specialists in the field to examine how Islamist movements around the world are rethinking some of their basic assumptions. The contributors, who include Islamist activists and leaders themselves, describe how groups are considering key strategic questions, including gradual versus revolutionary approaches to change; the use of tactical or situational violence; attitudes toward the state; and how ideology and politics interact. On September 25, Graeme Wood of The Atlantic and Kristin Diwan of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington will join Hamid and McCants for a panel discussion on the book’s findings and conclusions. After the discussion, the panel will take audience questions. A reception and book signing will follow. Attendees may purchase “Rethinking Political Islam” at an exclusive 10 percent discount, with the option of pre-ordering a signed copy online
  3. Confronting the Next Wave of Violent Extremism | Wednesday, September 27 | 9:00 am – 4:30 pm | United States Institute of Peace | Register Here | Join the U.S. Institute of Peace and the RESOLVE Network of global experts on violent extremism for the consortium’s annual forum on Wednesday, September 27, to discuss issues such as the risks in hotspots across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.The forum will feature preeminent international scholars and experts from across the network’s 20-plus partner organizations around the world. In addition to offering opportunities to connect with leading thinkers, practitioners and policymakers involved in developing responses to violent extremism, the day of panels and roundtable discussions will highlight findings from a year-long study on the rise of violent extremism in Bangladesh and preview upcoming research on the politics of religion in the Lake Chad Basin region. Panelists will address questions including what do we know about how and when terrorists decide to enter and exit violence, and how do the politics of religion, migration, and identity factor into efforts to counter violent extremism.
  4. Tunisia’s Road to Reform | Thursday, September 28 | 12:00 pm | Atlantic Council | Register Here | Please join the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East for a panel discussion on the new Tunisian government and prime minister shuffle. As part of a four-year IMF approved loan, the new government and cabinet must enact fiscal reforms to continue receiving a $2.9 billion loan aimed at strengthening job creation and economic growth. Will the so-called “war government” geared towards reform succeed in this effort? Is enough being done to address corruption and strengthen good governance? What are the major challenges and obstacles facing the Tunisian government in its effort to bring the country back to economic and political stability? The panel will address these and other concerns related to Tunisia’s ongoing transition. Panelists include Oussama Romdhani of the Arab Weekly, independent journalist Fadil Aliriza, and Sarah Yerkes of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace. The event will be introduced by Ambassador Frederic C. Hof of the Atlantic Council and moderated by Karim Mezran of the Atlantic Council.
  5. Iran’s Land Bridge: Countering a Growing Influence in the Middle East | Friday, September 29 | 12:00 – 1:30 pm | Hudson Institute | Register Here | The threat of an Iranian land bridge through Iraq and Syria—measured both in established influence and a physical presence—has become a reality. Iran’s goal for regional hegemony, a strategic plan more than three decades in the making, has come to fruition. With such a route in place, Iran can increase logistical and operational support to Lebanese Hezbollah and other IRGC-directed proxies. Is it possible to disrupt this route, and can it be done without provoking further conflict? On September 29, Hudson Institute will host a discussion assessing these and other elements of Iran’s strategic posture in the region. Hudson fellows Michael Pregent, Hillel Fradkin, and Lee Smith will join Ilan Berman of the American Foreign Policy Council to discuss the changing situation in the Middle East and the appropriate U.S. policy response.
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How low can he go?

Much lower I fear. While he has given a couple of half-sane, scripted speeches prepared with Chief of Staff Kelly’s approval, President Trump is still doing what he can to offend as soon as he is off the Teleprompter. Those who don’t approve of him are at this point about 60% of Americans and far higher percentages in most other countries. Russia and Israel are the exceptions. He is still launching ferocious attacks on the American media, retweeting anti-Semitic and racist tweeps, and slamming both Senate supporters and antagonists.

With August waning and an early Labor Day (September 4) looming in the US, prospects are for a difficult fall. The first item of business in the US Congress will be raising the debt ceiling and passing some sort of budget resolution. Trump has made that more difficult by insisting that the budget include money for the wall on the border he has promised the Mexicans would pay for. That’s a non-starter for the Democrats, who have some say in the Senate because 60 votes are needed on the budget issues. Tax reform, which so far means a big tax cut to businesses like Trump’s own, will have to wait. Never mind the promised trillion-dollar infrastructure program.

Trump wants the budget resolved by eliminating the filibuster and allowing bills to pass in the Senate with a simple majority. That is a proposition even more controversial than the wall, so he is publicly hounding Senate Majority leader McConnell into changing Senate rules to allow it. That’s not a way to make friends in the Senate, but so long as the Republicans control the House Trump can be sure it won’t impeach him (which has to precede sending him to the Senate for trial).

While America tries to sort out its internal political mess, the rest of the world is trying to make do without much clarity from Washington. In Asia, China is seizing the initiative on trade and finance, pushing its “belt and road” projects all the way to the Middle East and Africa. North Korea hasn’t tested a missile lately, and there seem to be talks about talks going on behind the scenes with the US, but the prospects of denuclearizing Pyongyang have dropped to zero.

In the Middle East, Syria’s President Assad is still advancing, as are the US-supported, Kurdish-led forces trying to take Raqqa from the Islamic State. The Syrian opposition is being pressed by the UN and everyone else to drop its demand that Assad step aside. Civilian casualties from American and other air attacks in the battle for Raqqa are mounting.

Defense Secretary Mattis is promising Turkey the US will help fight against Kurdish rebels inside Turkey and in Iraq, even as it supports their affiliates in Syria. That’s going to be a hard circle to square. Iraq is also making progress against the Islamic State, but Baghdad still hasn’t convinced its own Kurdistan to call off its independence referendum, scheduled for September 25 but increasingly in doubt.

Jared Kushner is plugging away at the Israel/Palestine issues, in visits to Ramallah, Cairo and Jerusalem. No one is expecting much to come of his efforts. The State Department has refused to reiterate US commitment to a two-state solution, which (as Matt Duss pointed out on Twitter) represents the single largest concession the Palestinians have made to date. Not that anyone had much doubt about which side the Trump Administration was on. We’ll presumably now be treated to the spectacle of Israel and the US proposing various confidence-building measures meant to make life and the economy more palatable for the occupied territories on the West Bank, while Jewish settlements expand and kill off any remaining hope for a two-state solution.

This is enabled in part by some Arab states coming to the conclusion that they care more about countering Iran than supporting the Palestinians. The Saudis and Emiratis seem prepared to collaborate with Israel against Iran, even if Qatar, Iraq, and Oman are headed in the opposite direction. Yemen no longer counts, since it is being obliterated in the Gulf-led war against the Houthi rebellion. Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco are likewise out of the game for now. Egypt and Jordan have made their peace with Israel and have no choice but to keep it.

Trump is increasingly marginalized from all these developments. Weakness at home leads to weakness abroad. His only major push on foreign policy lately has been the renewal and expansion of the American military push in Afghanistan. This allegedly new strategy closely resembles his predecessor’s effort to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. Like Obama, Trump doesn’t want to be blamed for losing Afghanistan, even if it proves impossible to keep his promise to win there.

We can still sink lower: North Korea could test another missile, the Palestinians could tell Kushner where to go, Trump could renounce the Iran nuclear deal, and the country’s long recovery from the financial crisis of 2007/8 could end. But most of all: we could continue to fail to deal with a president who is unqualified, mean-spirited, incompetent, and divisive. Let’s hope Special Counsel Mueller comes up with something compelling, sooner rather than later.

 

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Why so many Tunisian terrorists?

More than six years after their Arab spring uprising and two national elections, Tunisians still really don’t like their own political elite, according to recently published International Republican Institute polling. None of the major political parties or labor unions get more than 28% approval. Some individual leaders do a bit better, but only President Essebsi breaks 31%. And 77% of Tunisians agree that “Politicians do not pay attention to the needs and ideas of young people.” To be fair, they aren’t viewed as paying much attention to anyone’s needs but there own.

What do Tunisians want their government to do? Above all: provide jobs, preferably government jobs. This seems to be a congenital expectation in Tunisia that relative democracy has not yet extinguished. Private sector jobs are still less sought. But how Tunisians think the economy should be improved is interesting: fighting corruption and bribery, land reform, making it easier for entrepreneurs to start businesses, and increasing infrastructure investment are among the top policy choices. The trouble is no one thinks the government is doing those things, at least partly because it doesn’t communicate well.

What does it do well? Security, according to Tunisians. They are strongly positive not only about their apolitical national army but only marginally less so about the national police and national guard. I doubt there are many countries in the region where such positive numbers–upwards of 70% or so–prevail for the security forces. More than 61% give the government “somewhat good” or “very good” marks for keeping the country safe from terrorism. That will surprise many readers who remember the 2015 attack on tourists near Sousse, but that is also the most recent major attack. Yes, you can visit Tunisia without too much concern about terrorism, though past performance is no guarantee of future results.

The trouble is this: Tunisia, the one Arab spring country that has undergone at least a partial democratic transition, is also a major source of international terrorists. IRI has helpfully also looked into the reasons for this, by conducting focus groups and interviews in Beja, a Tunisian governorate that has produced many terrorist fighters. This is what they found as contributing factors:

discrimination, socio-economic marginalization, lack of opportunities, poverty, and unemployment.

I’d put all of that under the heading of marginalization. But the key difference between those more vulnerable to radicalization (as determined by “their stated support for foreign fighters in Syria, Iraq, and Libya”) and those who are more resilient appears to be disappointed expectations, causing lack of hope:

This sentiment was linked to grievances related to negative interactions with government officials or law enforcement and poor economic conditions.

That does not however enable you to anticipate who will become a terrorist. We are talking, after all, about a very small sample, compared to the population of Tunisia, or even young males 20-35. We know that variability is high in small populations. Looking for a single profile is a mistake. There likely is none.

So how does all this help you understand what to do? The key issue here is governance. Bad governance sets unrealistic expectations and disappoints them. Good governance sets realistic expectations and demonstrably meets them. There are going to be terrorists flowing out of Tunisia so long as the government there continues to disappoint, in particular expectations for jobs and less corruption.

The situation in Tunisia is not unique. Arab governments underperformed for decades without generating anything like the number of terrorists we are suffering from today. The Arab spring raised expectations. Its defeat in Syria, Libya, and Yemen has generated hopelessness. It’s not one of Newton’s three laws, but it is a formula for spawning young people who are willing to kill others or blow themselves up. There is no substitute for improved governance if we are going to undermine terrorism.

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Peace picks April 24-28

  1. Report Launch: “The Other Side of the World” | Monday, April 24 | 10:30-12 | CSIS | Register Here | China’s growing interests in the Middle East, and the United States’ enduring interests in the Middle East, create challenges for two of the world’s most powerful nations. Should they seek more active collaboration? Are their goals for the future of the Middle East compatible? To discuss the implications of increasingly robust China-Middle East ties for U.S. interests, CSIS invites you to the launch of its new Brzezinski Institute Report: “The Other Side of the World: China, the United States, and the Struggle for Middle East Security,” featuring Anne Gearan, Political Correspondent at the Washington Post; Jon B. Alterman, Senior Vice President and Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, and Director of the Middle East Program at CSIS; Michael J. Green, Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair at CSIS; Matthew P. Goodman, William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy and Senior Adviser for Asian Economics at CSIS; and Christopher K. Johnson, Senior Adviser and Freeman Chair in China Studies.
  2. What is the Future of EU-Turkey Relations? | Monday, April 24 | 2-3:30 | Wilson Center | Register Here | This panel will address a number of questions related to the April 16 Turkish constitutional referendum: Can the European-Turkish migration deal last? How might upcoming national elections in several European countries affect European ties with Turkey? What could cause the EU to freeze or end Turkey’s accession process? Is Erdogan willing to abandon Turkey’s EU membership bid or follow through with his threat to end the migration deal? Can the EU and Turkey find a way forward? Speakers include Michelle Egan, Professor and Jean Monnet Chair ad personam at School of International Service, American University; Aykan Erdemir, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; and Constanze Stelzenmueller, Senior Transatlantic Fellow and Director of Transatlantic Trends at the German Marshall Fund, Berlin and Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.
  3. The United Arab Emirates: Power, Politics, and Policy-Making | Tuesday, April 25 | 12-1:30 | AGSIW | Register Here | Led by Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates has become deeply embedded in the contemporary system of international power, politics, and policymaking. Only an independent state since 1971, the seven emirates that constitute the UAE represent not only the most successful Arab federal experiment but also the most durable. However, the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath underscored the continuing imbalance between Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and the five northern emirates. Meanwhile, the post-2011 security crackdown revealed the acute sensitivity of officials in Abu Dhabi to social inequalities and economic disparities across the federation. Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, Baker Institute Fellow for the Middle East at Rice University, charts the various processes of state formation and political and economic development that have enabled the UAE to emerge as a significant regional power and major player in the post-Arab Spring reordering of Middle East and North African politics, as well as the closest partner of the United States in military and security affairs in the region.
  4. New Approaches to Israel-Palestine Peace Efforts: Can Regional Powers Make a Difference? | Wednesday, April 26 | 1-3:30 | MEPC | Register Here | Panelists will discuss whether there are new opportunities to work with regional powers to realize a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. Speakers include Chas W. Freeman Jr., Chairman of Projects International Inc., Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Former US Assistant Secretary of Defense, and Former President, MEPC; Hady Amr, Nonresident Senior Fellow at Brookings, Former Deputy Special Envoy, Israeli-Palestinian Relations at the Department of State; and Former Deputy Assistant Administrator, Middle East at USAID; Ian Lustick, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Former President of Politics and History Section of the American Poltical Science Association, and Member of the Council on Foreign Relations; and Riad Khawaji, Founder and CEO of INEGMA, Middle East Bureau Chief at Defense News, and Middle East Correspondent at Jane’s Defense Weekly.
  5. The Syrian Crisis: What Lies Ahead on the Battlefield and in Diplomacy | Wednesday, April 26 | 1:30-5 | MEI | Register Here | The Middle East Institute (MEI) Track II Dialogues Initiative and the National Defense University Near East South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies have convened three rounds of private consultations with Russian counterparts about the Syrian conflict, most recently in February 2017. Participants from those and parallel MEI Track II encounters with Middle Eastern leaders will join with other experts on the military and diplomatic aspects of the conflict in two panel discussions to consider possible ways forward. These panelists include Jennifer Cafarella, Lead Intelligence Planner at the Institute for the Study of War, Charles Lister, Senior Fellow at MEI, Andrew J. Tabler, Martin J. Gross Fellow at WINEP, LTG (ret) Terry A Wolf, Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS at the Department of State, Wa’el Alzayat, CEO at Emerge USA, (ret) Robert S. Ford, Senior Fellow at MEI, Roger Kangas, Academic Dean and Professor, NESA Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, and Randa Slim, Director of Track II Dialogues at MEI.
  6. A Story to Tell: Changing the Narrative of American Muslims with Hena Khan | Wednesday, April 26 | 6-8pm | The Elliott School | Register Here | Join us for a conversation with Elliott School alumna and children’s author Hena Khan about her experiences writing books that represent American Muslims, promote understanding, and build tolerance and compassion. She will share her newest novel, Amina’s Voice, the first publication of Simon & Schuster’s groundbreaking new imprint Salaam Reads, which focuses on books about Muslims. Amina’s Voice recounts the story of a Pakistani-American Muslim girl who struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community.
  7. Tunisia in Transition: Challenges and Prospects | Thursday, April 27 | 2-3:30 | POMED and the Arab Center Washington | Register Here | Tunisia, the birthplace of the “Arab Spring” uprisings of 2011, stands today as the only country undertaking a democratic transition. But despite the historic progress, daunting challenges remain, including confronting corruption, bolstering the economy, and reforming the justice sector. What are the most important steps in confronting these challenges? And what role can international actors, including the United States, play in supporting Tunisia’s fragile democracy? Speakers include Amine Ghali, Program Director at Al Kawakibi Democracy Transition Center in Tunis, Leila Hilal, Senior Fellow, International Security Program at New America, Chawki Tabib, President of Tunisia’s National Authority for the Fight Against Corruption, and Sarah Yerkes, Fellow, Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment.
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Peace picks April 17-21

ISIS, Russia, and China: Can America Win at Three-Front Information War? | Tuesday, April 18 | 11:45-1:30 | Hudson Institute |Register Here

The Hudson Institute is hosting a roundtable discussion that will focus on the whole range of approaches, from US international media to public diplomacy to strategic communications to “grey” and “black” psy-ops, with Jeffrey Gedmin, senior fellow at Atlantic Council and former president and CEO of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Martha Bayles, visiting fellow at Hudson Institute, and Eric Brown, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute.

As the information age becomes the disinformation age, America faces three distinct adversaries, each with its own expertise in marrying cutting-edge technology with age-old methods of manipulation and deception. What are the differences between radical jihadist, Russian, and Chinese propaganda? How is America responding? How should it respond?

Contentious Cultural Politics in the Middle East and North Africa| Tuesday, April 18 |12-1:30 | Elliott School | Register Here

Join the Elliot School’s Project on Middle East Political Science for a conversation on current issues in the Middle East and North Africa. The expert panel features Laryssa Chomiak, Centre d’Etudes Maghrébines à Tunis; Lisel Hintz, Barnard College; Jillian Schwedler, Hunter College CUNY; and Lisa Wedeen, University of Chicago

Turkey’s New ‘Sultan’: Prospects for US and Regional Policy | Tuesday, April 18 |12:30| WINEP |Register Here |

It seems inevitable that Turkey will play a role in navigating many of the crises currently challenging U.S. interests, including the outcome of the Syria war and the future of Russian involvement in the Middle East. And at Turkey’s helm amid this storm is the populist president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who continues to consolidate his hold on domestic politics while using military and diplomatic means to solidify Ankara as a regional power — trends that could accelerate after the country’s landmark April 16 constitutional referendum.

In his latest book The New Sultan: Erdogan and the Crisis of Modern Turkey, Dr. Soner Cagaptay assesses how the longtime leader has cemented his rule over the years — and at what cost to his country’s stability and democratic future. To discuss these ambitions and how they might affect the Trump administration’s regional calculus, The Washington Institute is pleased to host a Policy Forum with the author, who will be joined by experts Amberin Zaman and Gonul Tol.

2017 Global Development Forum | Wed April 19|8:30-2:30| CSIS | Register Here

Please join the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) for the third annual Global Development Forum (GDF) on April 19. The GDF will feature over 40 speakers, including key stakeholders from U.S. government agencies, leading multilateral and non-governmental organizations, foreign governments, and the private sector.

The 2017 Global Development Forum seeks to examine the role and purpose of official development assistance against a backdrop of rising incomes, economic growth, youth unemployment, and other continued complex challenges in many parts of the world. To address these challenges, the next U.S. administration will need to apply new approaches and remain highly flexible in a rapidly changing development landscape. In particular, this conference will explore ways in which the next few years will shape the role of the United States in international development, and how the United States can work with official donors and key partners, including the private sector, civil society, and multilateral institutions.

The Difficult Road Ahead: Stabilizing Iraq and the Gulf Region | Wednesday, April 19 | 9:00-10:30 | Stimson Center | Register Here

While U.S. and Iraqi forces are making clear progress in the fight against ISIS, the security situation in Iraq and the Gulf region remains tenuous. ISIS was able to grow and develop largely due to the difficulties the government faced in controlling its vast territory and establishing inclusive governance to effectively integrate Iraq’s diverse constituencies. In the context of the ongoing instability in Iraq, Iran has increased its involvement in the region’s conflicts and has been able to assert a great deal of influence over Iraqi politics.

Bringing security to Iraq is essential, and the impact of U.S. intervention continues to be felt regionally and globally. Iran, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the U.S. all have an interest in a stable, peaceful Iraq. However, even as ISIS is defeated in Iraq, the question remains whether the U.S. or the Iraqi government are prepared to “win the peace” in the long-term. This on-the-record discussion hosted by the Stimson Center and TRENDS Research & Advisory will feature Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. Fareed Yasseen and an expert panel examining the question of what the U.S. and its regional partners can do to support Iraq in a way that will help ensure durable peace and stability.

While U.S. and Iraqi forces are making clear progress in the fight against ISIS, the security situation in Iraq and the Gulf region remains tenuous. ISIS was able to grow and develop largely due to the difficulties the government faced in controlling its vast territory and establishing inclusive governance to effectively integrate Iraq’s diverse constituencies. In the context of the ongoing instability in Iraq, Iran has increased its involvement in the region’s conflicts and has been able to assert a great deal of influence over Iraqi politics.

Vision 2030: One Year into Saudi Arabia’s Economic Reforms | Thursday, April 20|3:00-4:30 | CSIS | Register Here |

Join the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in a conversation with H.E. Dr. Majed Bin Abdullah al-Qasabi, the minister of commerce and investment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who also serves on the Kingdom’s Council of Economic and Development Affairs, chaired by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Previously, Dr. al-Qasabi served as minister of social affairs and was an adviser to then-Crown Prince Salman’s Court, with the rank of minister. He was also secretary general of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and director general of the Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Charity Foundation. Dr. al-Qasabi holds a Ph.D. in engineering management from the University of Missouri, and two M.A.s and a B.A. in civil engineering from University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Portland, respectively.

Energy Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Middle East | Wednesday, April 19 | 9:00 AM | Atlantic Council | Register Here

Please join the Atlantic Council on Wednesday, April 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. for a discussion about how energy innovation and entrepreneurship in the government and private sector are reshaping the Middle East and creating economic opportunities in the region. Joining us are Julia Nesheiwat, presidential deputy envoy for hostage affairs at the US Department of State; HE Majid Al-Suwaid, consul general of the United Arab Emirates in New York; and Salah Tabbara, general manager of ALBina Industrial Construction Company.

Across the Middle East, countries are pursuing energy innovation. Last year, Saudi Arabia announced its “Vision 2030” goals, by which the country aims to transform the economy and reduce its dependency on oil. Turkey plans to prioritize research and development (R&D) in the energy sector in the coming years, while Egypt’s Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy has set a goal of renewables providing 20 percent of all power used domestically by 2022. In the United Arab Emirates, Masdar is committed to the mission of renewable energy by investing in education and R&D.

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